US Internet giant Google is preparing a major overhaul of video sharing website YouTube by creating “channels” to compete with broadcast and cable TV, The Wall Street Journal reported today. Under a plan costing as much as $100 million, the YouTube homepage will highlight different channels focused on topics like arts and sports, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.
About 20 of the channels will present several hours of original programming produced professionally each week, while other channels would use content already available on the site. The launch will be phased over time, starting before the end of the year, and YouTube is hiring help to implement the initiatives.
In recent weeks, YouTube was also said to have held meetings with Hollywood talent agencies, which the newspaper said were more likely to produce deals with directors of production companies than with movie stars and other celebrities. YouTube, already the third most viewed website in the world, hopes the plan will further boost traffic to the site and take a bite out of the $70 billion US television advertising market. Executives of the site told the Journal they want people to “watch YouTube” the same way they “watch TV.”